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'Black Panther' Leaps High Expectations And Records With $192M Debut

14 hours 29 min ago

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Taking the No. 1 spot and quite a few records is "Black Panther," bringing in a massive $192 million over the weekend. There are plenty of milestones to get to, but we'll start with this. 

Aside from Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis, "Black Panther" is a virtually all-black cast featuring some of the best African-American talent Hollywood has to offer. Black Panther is the first black Marvel hero to get their own standalone feature film. The story on screen is crafted by a black director, and the words spoken were written by black writers. 

And yet, the story of Wakanda appealed to everybody — so much so that it managed the second highest debut of any movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only falling behind the first "Avengers" film. 

Point being, diversity in film is not only good for the soul; it can be good for your bottom line as well. Now, about those records ... 

SEE MORE: The US Population Is Increasing In Age And Diversity

"Black Panther" is far and away the biggest February debut in box office history — stealing the top spot from "Deadpool," which made just over $130 million in three days. 

Falling behind iconic franchises like "Star Wars" and "Jurassic Park," "Black Panther" is the fifth best domestic debut in box office history, but it is the biggest debut ever that isn't a sequel. 

This also marks the biggest opening and highest grossing film for an African-American director in movie history — beating out F. Gary Gray's "Straight Outta Compton."

Along with putting up staggering box office numbers, "Black Panther" has been a critical marvel. 

It's the highest-rated superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes to date with a 97 percent on the tomatometer. 

It's very difficult to meet the kind of expectations that were placed on "Black Panther" from the beginning, but all hail king T'challa and his very, very impressive debut.

SEE MORE: How This 'Black Panther' Tailor Helped Craft Wakanda's Seamless Style

Taking the No. 2 spot this week is "Peter Rabbit," earning an estimated $17 million in its sophomore weekend. 

And falling to No. 3 this week is "Fifty Shades Freed" with an estimated $16.9 million. 

As for next week, wanna know what's scarier than an alligator almost eating you? A shark alligator almost eating you. 

5 Dead In Russian Church Shooting

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 20:45

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Five people died Sunday in a church shooting in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan.

Russia's interior ministry said five others were injured in the attack by a gunman who "opened fire on people celebrating" the start of Russian Orthodox Lent.

Police reportedly killed the shooter. Two officers are said to be among the injured. The Interfax News Agency says the shooter was a local man in his 20s. 

2 Palestinians Dead After Israeli Strikes On Gaza

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 20:28

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Two Palestinians were killed Saturday night in Israeli strikes in Gaza.

The attacks came after an improvised explosive device injured four Israeli soldiers. The Israeli military said its jets and tanks struck "18 terror targets" controlled by Hamas.

The attacks are some of the most severe escalation of tension since the 2014 Gaza War. 

SpaceX Taking First Steps To Provide Internet To Anywhere In The World

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 20:01

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SpaceX plans to launch two satellites into space this week in what could be the first step to make the company's internet-in-space project a reality.

The Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

SEE MORE: After Falcon Heavy, What's Next For SpaceX?

The end plan is to deliver internet to people anywhere in the world via thousands of small satellites. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said if everything goes well and is approved, the project would be the first American-based one of its kind.

The two satellites won't be the primary load on the Falcon 9 launch Wednesday, though.

The rocket's main mission is to bring a satellite called PAZ into space for the Spanish government. PAZ will be in space for about five and a half years, orbiting the Earth and taking pictures. 

NBC Hires US Figure Skater Adam Rippon As Correspondent

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 19:28

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U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon will be an NBC correspondent for the remainder of the games.

Rippon is one of the first openly gay U.S. Olympic athletes to compete. The skater has made headlines recently, and not just for his performances in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He was critical of Vice President Mike Pence being named to lead the U.S. Olympic delegation — mainly because of Pence's track record on LGBTQ rights.

Following the Winter Games opening ceremony, Rippon and fellow openly gay Olympian Gus Kenworthy posed for a selfie captioned, "Eat your heart out Pence."

Astronomers Find Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 19:01

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Around 3,600 exoplanets have been found since the first one was discovered in 1995. On Thursday, astronomers published a study and added nearly 100 new planets to that count.

Astronomers spent four years pouring over data from NASA's Kepler space telescope's K2 mission. In that time, they found 95 new planets.

SEE MORE: Nearby Exoplanets Appear To Be Pretty Rich In Water

The planets range in size from super-Earths to Jupiter-sized giants. And one of them is orbiting a very bright star — the brightest star Kepler has ever seen with an orbiting planet.

All of these findings add to scientists' understanding of exoplanets, which in turn helps us better understand our solar system and its place in the universe.

Survivors Of The Florida School Shooting Plan A March On Washington

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 18:04

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The survivors of Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, say they're going to march on Washington next month.

"We've been hearing a lot that this is not the time to talk about gun control," Stoneman Douglas High School student Cameron Kasky said. "And we can respect that. We've lost people; it's important to mourn. Here's a time to talk about gun control: March 24. My message for the people in office is: You're either with us or against us."

Twitter page and website were set up Sunday for March for Our Lives, which organizers say will call for Congress to pass gun control legislation. A lot of details about the march weren't immediately available.

SEE MORE: Florida Shooting Suspect Raised Officials' Concern As Far Back As 2016

The students from Stoneman Douglas have been vocal ever since the shooting that they want change. Many of them have advocated for stricter gun control and condemned the political influence of the National Rifle Association. And at least once, a survivor has outright derided the president.

"If the president wants to come up to me and tell me in my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should've never happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm gonna happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association," student Emma Gonzalez said at a rally Saturday.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Harassment Claims Force Husband Of Murdered UK Lawmaker From Charities

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 17:50

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After a right-wing extremist murdered U.K. lawmaker Jo Cox in 2016, her husband Brendan Cox set up several charities to continue her life's work. Now he's resigning from two of those organizations over sexual assault allegations. 

Cox's resignation came after the Daily Mail's sister publication — the Mail on Sunday — published a 2015 police report with allegations that Cox assaulted a woman at Harvard University.

Cox has denied these allegations, but he previously left a role at the Save the Children charity over a separate incident in 2015.

SEE MORE: Sexual Harassment Training Will Be Required For State Department

Cox said in a statement: "While I do not accept the allegations contained in the 2015 complaint to the police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I do acknowledge and understand that during my time at Save the Children, I made mistakes."

The U.K. has seen several other high-profile sexual harassment scandals recently thanks in part to the #MeToo movement. One in five U.K. Parliament workers has reportedly faced sexual harassment in the past 12 months, according to a leaked government report.

Cox has stepped down from charities More in Common and the Jo Cox Foundation. His sister says the charities will continue their work in his absence.

John Kasich Says He Doesn't Think Congress Will Change Gun Policy

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 17:33

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Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he doesn't think Congress will do anything about gun policy after the deadly school shooting in Florida.

"Do I think they can do anything on guns? I hope they prove me wrong, and they can because I have no confidence in them," Kasich said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Kasich commented that legislation on a state and local level might have better luck, but he doesn't believe anything will get through federally. 

SEE MORE: Officials Discuss Mental Health, Gun Ownership After Florida Shooting

"I'm not calling for some outright ban. I'm talking about small steps that can be taken that can be effective," Kasich said.

Kasich said he supports the Second Amendment but that there needs to be some sort of change in policy. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

An Olympic Athlete From Russia Could Lose His Medal Over Doping

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 16:33

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Aleksandr Krushelnitckii and his wife won bronze in the mixed doubles curling event last Wednesday. But he has reportedly tested positive for a heart medicine that has been banned at the Olympics since 2016 and may lose his medal.

A massive doping scandal barred Russia from officially participating in the 2018 Olympics, but some Russian athletes were still allowed to compete as "Olympic athletes from Russia."

But those athletes have faced increased scrutiny by officials and drug testers. One source told Reuters anti-doping officials will need a second sample to confirm the results.

Certain Canned Dog Foods Recalled Due To Possible Drug Contamination

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 15:57

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Dog owners, beware: J.M. Smucker is recalling a few of its canned dog food products after finding they could be contaminated with a drug veterinarians use to euthanize pets.

The products include Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits, Ol'Roy and Skippy brands manufactured from 2016 to now, according to a statement released Friday from the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA reports the small amount of the drug — pentobarbital — isn't likely to "pose a health risk to pets" but that it definitely shouldn't be in their food.

Side effects to be on the lookout for are drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea and an inability to stand. The FDA suggests taking your pet to the vet if you think it might have gotten sick from eating contaminated dog food. 

Trump Links Russia Probe To Florida School Shooting

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 15:32

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President Donald Trump suggested Saturday that the FBI failed to stop the Florida school shooting because it's spending too much time on the Russia investigation.

In one of many Russia-related tweets this weekend, Trump said: "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign."

On Friday, the FBI admitted it failed to investigate a tip about the Parkland, Florida, shooter in January. 

SEE MORE: Here's What Mueller Charged Those 13 Russians With In His Indictment

Trump's tweet also comes after special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups as part of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump also tweeted Sunday that the investigations into Russian meddling are creating chaos and divisions in the U.S. He said, "They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!"

Israeli Prime Minister Warns Of Possible Conflict With Iran

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:43

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu says his country is prepared to fight a war with Iran over tensions in Syria. To underline his point, Netanyahu brought along what he claimed was an Iranian drone shot down by Israeli forces.

Netanyahu was at an annual security conference in Munich when he made the remarks. 

The prime minister has long been concerned about Iran's influence in the Middle East and warned that the country's power is growing as militant groups like ISIS lose territory.

Iran's foreign minister pushed back against Netanyahu's remarks, calling his address a "cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response."

66 People Feared Dead After Plane Crash In Iran

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:27

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All 66 people aboard a passenger plane that reportedly crashed Sunday in Iran are feared dead.

State media reports the Aseman Airlines plane crashed in the mountains about an hour after it took off from Tehran.

Emergency crews have reportedly been sent to the area but have to travel by land because of bad weather.

According to multiple media outlets, Aseman Airlines originally said all people on board had died but later retracted that statement.

As of Sunday morning, there was no word on what caused the crash.

Florida Shooting Suspect Raised Officials' Concern As Far Back As 2016

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 20:34

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The 19-year-old who confessed to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, may have been on authorities' radar as far back as 2016. 

Outlets report the suspect was investigated by state officials after he posted a video on Snapchat showing him cutting both of his arms. He also reportedly said he planned to buy a gun.

Officials interviewed the suspect but ultimately decided he was stable and already receiving adequate support from a counselor.

The news comes a day after the FBI admitted it failed to investigate a tip it received about the suspect in January.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe May Face Arrest Over Alleged 'Fake' PhD

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 20:27

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Zimbabwe's former first lady Grace Mugabe could face arrest in fallout from an allegedly fake Ph.D. she received.

The vice chancellor of the university that issued the degree has been arrested on charges of criminal abuse of office. Faculty had petitioned for Mugabe's degree to be revoked. 

Grace Mugabe is married to former President Robert Mugabe and was seen as his chosen successor before his ouster last year. She received a Ph.D. from University of Zimbabwe in 2014 despite only being enrolled for a few months. Her thesis only publicly appeared this year. 

Mugabe used her doctorate title on campaign material when she seemed to position herself to take over for her aging husband. 

That plan backfired when the military took over the capital Harare and oversaw President Mugabe's resignation and the appointment of his former vice president as the country's leader. 

Women Who Clean A Lot Could Face Decreased Lung Function

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 20:18

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A new study suggests household cleaning products might do as much damage to women's lungs as smoking cigarettes.

Researchers followed more than 6,000 participants over 20 years and found that women who used cleaning products at home or at work saw dramatic decreases in lung functionality over the years.

In fact, continued exposure is about as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 10-20 years.

Oddly, the study suggested there's no difference in lung function between men who routinely used cleaning products and those who didn't. But the researchers suggest that might be because there are fewer men who work as cleaners.

South Korean President Moon Doesn't Want To Rush Talks With The North

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 18:45

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the Olympics have helped ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. But it's probably still too early to host a summit with its northern neighbor.

Kim Yo Jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister, invited Moon to Pyongyang for talks with her brother.

When asked by reporters on Saturday whether he would hold a summit, Moon suggested he didn't want to rush it.

Moon said he hopes the current state of affairs between North Korea and South Korea will lead to better relations on the peninsula. He also said he hopes it will lead to a dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea.

 Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Amid Criticism, Pope Francis Renews Sexual Abuse Commission

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 18:43

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Pope Francis has restored a lapsed sexual abuse commission within the Catholic Church.

The commission, which is aimed at preventing abuse within the church, was created in 2013 but didn't start until 2014. Its first three-year mandate ended in December. 

The move to renew the commission comes as the church faces an abuse scandal in Chile. The pope received a lot of backlash after initially dismissing those accusations. 

Unlike the original commission, the pope didn't publicly name any survivors of abuse in the group, but the Vatican says they'll still be involved.

US, Russian Officials Respond To Mueller's Indictment

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 18:23

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A top Russian and U.S. official made back-to-back comments about special counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of several Russian citizens and organizations. And they went pretty much as you would expect. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the indictment "blather" and "claptrap," saying he wouldn't comment further until he saw "facts." 

He made those comments at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. 

Soon after, U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster said evidence of Russian election meddling is "incontrovertible." He said the U.S. was learning how to better track "the origins of this espionage and subversion."